How to Prep Your Puppy for the Winter Months
The winter chill has set in and the excitement of the holidays has worn down. But there’s still snow, new smells, and adventures for you and your pup to share. Is Jack Frost nipping at your dog’s nose? The chill of winter is here and the coldest part of the year.
Imagine this. Just as you have cleared the sidewalk for the third time this week, your dog clears through a large snowdrift! Smelling, digging, pouncing and yes, rolling in snow allows them to express happiness. The winter season is now their biggest delight!
Understanding all your young dog needs, prior to stepping out into the cold is crucial. A conversation with your veterinarian about the specifics of your breed is a must! Guidelines change with age, size, fur length, body fat, breed and purpose. Pets living with a health condition may have trouble regulating their body temperature making them more susceptible to problems as the temperature drops. Check the wind chill along with the temperature when venturing out. Frostbite and hyperthermia are preventable. Know the facts before winter attacks.
Preparing Your Dog For Their First Snow Fall.
At 45 degrees a young dog will begin to feel the chill. First felt in their feet, ear tips and tail. A nice winter coat is recommended to help retain their body heat. Think waterproof apparel with a soft polar-fleece lining. As the cold transforms into snow, the dampness on trees can fall on your furry friend during walks. Even better gleeful rolls in fresh fallen snow can overtake them! Like your own coat, a barrier will insulate them while resisting moisture and look extra cute too!
Once outside they may become curious, mischievous and rambunctious! Well..snow is fun! Unfortunately, clumps of wet snow can get stuck between their toes and stick to their fur. This can be very annoying and painful. Doggie boots are a good source of protection, not only against the cold weather, but also toward weather chemicals. Road salt, windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze can be dangerous. By using boots your dog doesn’t have to walk in these substances. Made from a water-resistant material, they should have a textured flexible sole that adheres to your dog’s natural gait. You never know when the snow zoomies might strike.
My Dog Refuses To Wear Outdoor Boots
Did your dog do the boot dance the first time after trying on boots? Perhaps they didn’t approve of the cold-weather fashion statement? Not all dogs are thrilled with the feeling of a foreign object on each paw. If you live in a snowy climate it’s important to keep your pet’s feet safe and warm. Dogs with a lot of fur on their feet are especially vulnerable. Hair in the pads can become matted, retaining moisture from the snow and is a magnet for bad things digestible. Keeping the fur-trimmed helps, but is not a solution.
Boots seem like such an easy answer to us, but keep in mind dogs are used to feeling the ground directly underneath them. It’s a completely unnatural feeling in the beginning for them as they feel very out of control. A great fitting boot is one that allows your dog’s paws to spread out when walking. All dog paws are not the same. Working with a professional may be the answer. Check your local pet supply store and see what advice they may offer. They can fit your dog with the appropriate boot to ensure the size is accurate.
When Boots or Snow Are Not Your Dog’s Best Friend
- Vaseline / Paw Balm – Coat paw prior to walking for an added layer of protection.
- Doggy Socks – Softer comfort with a shorter break-in period.
- Afterwalk Care – Soak paws in warm water then towel dry thoroughly after walks.
- Controlled Walking Path – Set up your own snow/chemical free walking area.
- Potty Spot – Create a pebble area off from the home for multiple trips until a warmer day arrives.
- Peak Walking Times – Take advantage of the winter sun rays to add some additional warmth.
- Indoor Grass Pad – A patch of grass for those dire strait times such as sub-zero temps.
Do Dogs Get Cold At Night Indoors?
Even indoors dogs can get cold. Experts recommend keeping your home thermostat set between 69 and 73 degrees. When you’re away, always keep it above 60. Open the curtains so your dog has the option of basking in the sun. During the dog days of winter, thoughts of a warm place far away will fill their dreams and give them some of that much-needed vitamin D they might be missing.
You’ll want to switch up their bedding as the weather changes. Consider a raised bed allowing your dog to be elevated away from the chilly floor while sleeping. Cold weather makes even young dogs feel stiff. Raise their bed to provide an even orthopedic level of comfort. It could also be an additional source of entertainment as the robot vacuum chases dust bunnies underneath them.
Dogs love to dig and burrow in their blankets. They find comfort in fluffing up their surroundings before settling in. Add plenty of extra covers to their bed. Any signs of shivering, whining, trembling or lifting paws off the ground may indicate they are uncomfortably cold. Check for drafts near your dog’s bed. They will notice the temperature change much more quickly than you will. At ground level these little guys get cold. Those sneaky gusts of cold air should be searched out and sealed up.
It’s the most wonder-fur time of the year
There’s a lot to love about winter. Beautiful fresh fallen snow, justified downtime and all those cozy nights by the fireplace. Keep in mind our loving pets are feeling some big changes of their own, too. Winter means shorter days and colder nights, less physical and mental stimulation. As we begin to slow down, so do our fur-babies. Don’t allow the cold weather to dampen your dog’s spirit. Whether inside or out, stay engaged and alert of the winter risks.
In the end, the old-fashioned human heater may solve all of your dog’s winter worries. Letting your dog sleep with you during the winter months will make them feel safe, loved and warm. A few extra cuddles may be just the trick for a long winter’s nap.
Article by guest contributor- Sarah Ihrig